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Health Secretary Wes Streeting orders review of NHS performance

An independent review of NHS performance in England has been ordered by the new health secretary.

Wes Streeting said he wants the investigation to tell the “hard truths” about what he has called a broken service.

Writing in the Sun newspaper, he said it will help inform his forthcoming 10-year plan for the NHS.

Mr Streeting said the NHS could be turned around, but first it was important to diagnose the problem.

“It’s clear to anyone who works in or uses the NHS that it is broken.

“Patients are waiting more than a year for an operation. They can’t get through the front door for a GP appointment. And when they call an ambulance, they don’t know if or when one will arrive.”

He said during the election campaign he heard from people across the country who had been let down including an 88-year-old woman who fell out of bed and waited three hours for an ambulance and an RAF veteran who has been waiting 15 months for an operation.

“These aren’t exceptional cases. This is what is happening to patients up and down the country. The NHS has been wrecked,” Mr Streeting said.

“We can turn the NHS around. But before we write the prescription, we need to diagnose the problem.”

The announcement comes as a new report revealed progress in reducing the health service’s waiting numbers has “stagnated” with long waits remaining “endemic” in the NHS.

It is more than eight years since any of the key waiting time targets for A&E, hospital waiting times or cancer care have been hit in England.

The NHS in England will publish its latest waiting time data on Thursday – the first since the new government took office.

Experts from the Nuffield Trust point out that Labour has inherited a waiting list for pre-planned hospital treatment of around 7.5 million in England – a 66% increase since the start of the pandemic.

While progress has been made in some areas, such as cataract surgery, waits for some major surgeries have been slower to get back to pre-Covid levels, experts said.

The investigation will be led by Lord Ara Darzi, who acted as an adviser and minister to the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

He now sits as an independent peer.

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